• Ari Marcopoulous, Detroit, 2009, still from a color video, 7 minutes 32 seconds.

    Whitney Biennial 2010

    Whitney Museum of American Art
    99 Gansevoort Street
    February 25–May 30, 2010

    Curated by Francesco Bonami and Gary Carrion-Murayari

    The seventy-fifth installment of the Whitney’s signature series will be housed entirely in its familiar HQ, incorporating a fifth-floor presentation of the greatest hits from previous Biennials (procured from the museum’s collection). If this backward glance results in accusations of penny-pinching or conservatism, the curatorial duo of elder statesman Bonami and relative novice Carrion-Murayari will try to counter them with a main event that features an eclectic, multigenerational lineup of fifty-five artists. Both curators are familiar with the Whitney way—2007 saw Bonami helping to organize its Rudolf Stingel retrospective and Carrion-Murayari, a five-year veteran of the institution, assembling the video exhibition “Television Delivers People.” The question of whether the Eurocentric Bonami in particular will deliver a credible survey of American art at decade’s end should make this, as ever, one to watch.

  • Marina Abramović and Ulay, Relation in Time, 1977. Performance view, Studio G7, Bologna, 1977. Original performance 17 hours. © 2010 Marina Abramović/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

    Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    March 14–May 31, 2010

    Curated by Klaus Biesenbach

    I FIRST ENCOUNTERED MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ in 1989. We had been asked to collaborate for a video art series produced by Spanish television. And I remember thinking at the time that if she was as brave as her performances indicated, then of course she would want to work with someone she didn’t know. We both happened to be in London, so we met for tea, and we each chose a cake: She picked a rectangular one, I picked a round one, and I thought, “This is perfect—we are opposites in so many ways; this could be interesting.”

    The result was a six-minute video piece titled SSS. Marina said it was the most baroque thing she had ever made; her previous videos had been single shots with no internal edits. But for me, it was the most minimal thing I’d ever done.

    OF ALL THE PERFORMERS I have worked with, Marina is the one who has always been most strongly part of the art world. Most of her performances have been shown in galleries and art spaces; likewise, her sculptures, videos, and photographs derive much of their power from their link to performance. And so it seems particularly appropriate that her upcoming retrospective [including about fifty of these pieces] would be in a museum.

    Revisiting historical performances in museums is a tricky thing, of course. For me, the best performances come out of a particular artist’s need to perform at a particular time and in a particular context. I don’t think they can be performed again and have the same meaning and impact. On the other hand, I have always been interested in reconstructions of performances I’ve never seen, and I think experiencing these can have educational value.

    I understand that in Marina’s upcoming show at the Museum of Modern Art there will be several “reperformances,” in which live actors (chosen by Marina) reenact pieces in a gallery. The choice of works does seem to have resulted from a process of discrimination, featuring those that are perhaps less dependent on the relationship between specific performers [such as Relation in Time, 1977, in which two people are connected by their long hair, tied together, and Point of Contact, 1980, where two people touch index fingers]. A work like Rest Energy, 1980, in which two people face each other, holding a bow with its arrow pointed directly at one performer’s heart, wouldn’t survive reperformance as well. (She originally performed this with her collaborator and partner at the time, Ulay.)

    IF THE HALLMARK OF PERFORMANCE was once its evanescence, its inability to be captured, then we have gone from an age of almost no documentation to a moment when every performance is recorded in some way, and that documentation is often conceived of as part of the performance. Marina’s work represents a bridge between these periods.

    Indeed, the next piece I worked on with Marina—The Biography, 1992—included her own reperformance of many of her previous works, a kind of live anthology. But after that we did Delusional together in 1994, which involved very little recapitulation. It was an elaborate multimedia solo performance for Marina; we constructed a large glass stage that was covered by fabric in the first part of the show, during which Marina danced and then laid on a bed of ice. In the second part, Marina (wearing a cumbersome costume designed by Leigh Bowery) slowly uncovered the stage, revealing four hundred live rats that had been hiding underneath. We also incorporated video—we’d gone to Serbia in the middle of the Bosnian war and shot video of her mother and her father, an amazing experience that injected some biographical and personal material into the piece. But there’s no real record of Delusional beyond a few photographs; I didn’t film it at the time because I considered it a work in progress. So it was a purely theatrical experience for me—and being a filmmaker, it was such a pleasure to be able to make immediate adjustments to the primary material. Unlike making a film, making a performance is intensely sculptural.

    In many ways, our sculptural material was Marina herself, her body. During the process of making the work, Marina was absolutely open and willing to try anything. She floored me with her bravery and her appetite for the unknown. Every day we got up and had breakfast and went to the studio, just trying things and rehearsing them, building up endurance for the actual performance. Of course, she tried to train me, too: We would sit looking into a mirror for an hour, trying not to blink. “It’s just willpower,” she would say.

    At MoMA, Marina will be premiering a work [The Artist Is Present] that will be a daily ritual: She’s going to be in the museum every day, all day, sitting at a table, and any visitor can come and sit there for as long as they want. And of course she wants to film the entire thing, all 586 hours. She has always been deeply interested in these extremes between simple actions and high drama, particularly opera: I’ve often thought she wanted to be Maria Callas. In many ways, she has succeeded.

  • Tino Sehgal

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York
    1071 Fifth Avenue
    January 29–March 10, 2010

    Curated by Nancy Spector

    A show with no catalogue, no documentation, and no objects—for Tino Sehgal, it’s simply business, or the lack thereof, as usual. With an unconventional background in dance and economics, and a conviction that the world is already too full of things, Sehgal reimagines the museum as a choreographed agora, a stage for interpersonal scenarios that lay bare the animating mechanisms of exchange between viewer and artwork. In quintessential Sehgalian fashion, his infiltration of the Guggenheim is preceded by a conspicuous lack of specifics, other than that he will be creating two ambiences for the main space—an “arena for spectatorship” on the ground floor of the rotunda and a scenario involving “direct verbal interaction between museum visitors and trained participants” on the spiral ramp. Don’t miss it: If you do, it won’t exist.

  • Henri Cartier-Bresson, Los Angeles, 1960, gelatin silver print, 8 x 13 11/16". Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris. © Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

    Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century

    High Museum of Art
    1280 Peachtree Street, NE
    February 16–May 15, 2011

    The Art Institute of Chicago
    111 South Michigan Avenue
    July 24–October 3, 2010

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    April 11–June 21, 2010

    San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
    151 Third Street
    March 17, 2010–January 30, 2011

    Curated by Peter Galassi

    Long canonized through his street photographs’ articulation of the “decisive moment,” pioneering photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson is now the subject of a three-hundred-print retrospective. Although he documented many of the social shifts around the world between the 1930s and the ’70s, it is primarily his portrait of the quotidian life of postwar Europe, imbued with charm and sentiment, that has seemingly endured. The exhibition’s inclusion of his reportage from China, India, and elsewhere promises to expand our understanding of his oeuvre, but it is just one of the opportunities the show offers to renew HCB’s legacy in a present whose most innovative photography is premeditated and straddles fact and fiction.

  • Leon Golub, POST MODERNIST BIMBO, 2002, oil stick and ink on vellum, 10 x 8".

    Leon Golub: Live + Die like a Lion?

    Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University

    September 21–December 12, 2010

    The Drawing Center
    35 Wooster Street
    July 25, 2013–July 23, 2010

    De Domijnen
    Ligne 2
    January 1–April 30, 2011

    Curated by Brett Littman

    Leon Golub was at odds with the world and with himself for most of his long career. His contrarian, combative stance gives his work a ferocity that catches people off guard. Famous in the 1950s, when abstraction ruled the roost, for huge antiheroic canvases of gigantic warring figures, Golub reemerged in the neo-expressionist ’80s with stark muralsize tableaux of political violence in the shadows of the American empire. Unable to paint on such a scale during his last years, he drew prolifically instead. This exhibition features fifty-odd drawings he made between 1999 and his death in 2004. The harsh symbolic imagery, graphic nuances, and Brechtian “disgrace” notes of these late works are a startling coda to an ever-adversarial life.

  • Otto Dix, Group Portrait, Guenther Franke, Paul Ferdinand Schmidt, and Karl Nierendorf, 1923, oil on canvas mounted on wood, 15 3/4 x 29 1/8".

    Otto Dix

    Montréal Museum of Fine Arts
    1380 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest
    September 20, 2010–January 2, 2011

    Neue Galerie New York
    1048 Fifth Avenue
    March 11–August 30, 2010

    Curated by Olaf Peters

    The Neue Galerie adds to its roster of distinguished exhibitions with the first American solo museum show of Otto Dix (1891–1969). The German artist’s paintings and works on paper, which traverse Expressionism, Neue Sachlichkeit, and Berlin Dada, give a vivid and terrifying image of trench warfare (which the artist had experienced firsthand, having enlisted at the outbreak of World War I) and illuminate the queasy yet fascinating milieu of the Weimar Republic. (Paintings like The Dancer Anita Berber, 1925, contribute mightily to the come-to-the-cabaret image-repertoire of Weimar “decadence.”) The exhibition includes more than 150 works and is accompanied by lectures, as well as a film series.

  • Nina Hoffmann, Untitled (KS) (detail), 2009, 35-mm black-and-white slide projection, dimensions variable.

    “Leopards in the Temple”

    44-19 Purves Street
    January 10–March 30, 2010

    Curated by Fionn Meade

    Fifteen artists—most of them young and European—infiltrate SculptureCenter this winter wielding highly divergent practices: Aleana Egan translates facets of the built environment into pared-down sculptural abstractions; Patrick Hill slathers concrete onto canvas and dyes it a playful red; Nina Canell makes diminutive constructions that emit light, sound, and mist. Meanwhile, Anthology Film Archives will screen collaborative shorts by João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva and by Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer (working as Nashashibi/Skaer). Knit loosely together by Kafka’s parable about leopards who break into a temple, lap up the sacrificial wine, and do so with such regularity that they become part of the ceremony, the show holds within its own chalice a series of aberrations—subtle propositions that may reshape the norm.

  • Henri Matisse, Flowers and Ceramic Plate, 1913, oil on canvas, 36 1/4 x 32 1/2". © 2010 Les Héritiers Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

    “Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913–1917”

    The Art Institute of Chicago
    111 South Michigan Avenue
    March 20–June 20, 2010

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
    11 West 53rd Street
    July 18–October 11, 2010

    Curated by Stephanie D’Alessandro and John Elderfield

    The formula is virtually ideal: Subject a landmark painting to long, deep analysis both historical and forensic—with the close collaboration of the conservation studio—and use those findings to reinterpret a crucial body of the artist’s work. If the painting in question is Henri Matisse’s Bathers by a River, which the artist reworked multiple times between 1909 and 1917, the results promise to be thrilling. Well over a hundred objects from the 1910s in all media will be assembled for this joint project between the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. No shortage of ingenuity and expertise will be lavished on a sustained consideration of the artist’s working process, characterized during this phase by searching, self-critical analysis of his slow progress.